Safe Fiction – Part 2


I never actually got around to fiction yesterday, instead establishing a foundation. In summary, “safe” is something all people desire to one degree or another. The world is not safe. True safety is only in Jesus.

So what does any of this have to do with fiction?

Let me preface the answer to that question by saying, I understand the desires of people to read “safe” fiction, as we commonly understand the term. These would be stories without graphic sex, relatively no bad language, and no gratuitous violence. I understand because I am one. I have a vivid imagination and therefore “see” scenes I read. I also had nightmares for years after watching a Frankenstein movie. And bad language finds it’s way into my thoughts when I’m around it very long. So, when I want to read for entertainment, I prefer to read something that will not put me into spiritual turmoil. I think it’s similar to an alcoholic walking into a bar—not a wise place to go.

In addition, I understand parents wanting books that will not introduce their children to values and behavior they aren’t ready for. Ideally parents will read books before or with their children. Practically, especially as they get older, the parents will have a hard time keeping up. Consequently, they make decisions based on flimsy evidence: the book is published by a known Christian publisher, they bought the book in a Christian bookstore, the book has a dragon on the cover, or whatever.

The first two flimsy evidences are the key to this discussion, I think. Christian publishers are aware that a segment of readers, looking for books that will not cause spiritual turmoil for themselves or worldly enticement for their children, have come to expect this from books bearing their imprint. In addition, bookstores are aware of the same thing.

But what about the people who aren’t “alcoholics”? Is there no fiction for them, because a world without cursing and sex and even horror seems whitewashed.

Personally, I kinda feel sorry for this group. I think they’ll have some adjustment to make in heaven, but that’s just my own opinion. 😉

The fact that lies at the heart of this issue, also in my opinion, is the incorrect assumption that a story without sex, bad language, or gratuitous violence is therefore “safe.” Many parents came to the same conclusion and added magic, wizards, and dragons to the list of what isn’t “safe.” But where does this list of “things not safe to include in stories” lead?

Primarily it leads to self-effort. It’s up to us to create safety in an unsafe environment. No longer do we trust Christ to steer us in and around and through the spiritually unsafe waters we all encounter. Simply put, we don’t need to trust Him if we eliminate sex, bad language, gratuitous violence, dragons, wizards, and magic from all our stories.

That attitude, of course, is not one we adopt consciously. Nor do we realize how vulnerable it leaves us. Once we’ve determined to eliminate the “dangerous” stuff, we read with our guard down, leaving us open to greed, lust, pride, envy, covetousness, deception, disobedience, unfaithfulness, gossip, laziness, hatred … need I go on?

This post prompted by Mike Duran at Decompose.

Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 11:36 am  Comments (2)  
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